Ztohoven Acquitted for Nuclear Bomb Prank

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Court clears Czech nuclear pranksters of charges – Summary
by DPA
The Earth Times
March 25, 2008

ttt0a0852857494886a-200.jpgPrague – A Czech court Tuesday acquitted seven young guerilla artists of scaremongering charges for sneaking images of a fake atomic mushroom cloud onto live national television. The prank was not a crime as the images were not “capable of alarming” the public, according to judge Stanislava Suchankova.

“People were rather amused how easy it is to break into broadcasting,” CTK news agency cited her as saying.

“We are all happy,” one of the tried artists David Brudnak, 33, also known as Roman Tyc, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. “How can you scaremonger without having frightened a single person?”

The artists faced a fine or up to three years in prison for feeding prerecorded images of a nuclear blast onto an early-morning weather programme that offers panoramic views of mountainous resorts.

After years of preparation, they managed to plug a camcorder with their atomic tape into one of the programme’s unmanned stationary cameras in the northern Krkonose Mountains in June 2007.

A state attorney initially indicted six pranksters and planned to prosecute the seventh separately. The court, however, merged the proceedings.

The artists, who were accompanied to the district court in the northern town of Trutnov by a busload of collaborators, said earlier that the aim of their action, dubbed Media Reality, was not to frighten anyone, but to prompt people to question the validity of what they see in the media.

While the prank infuriated the broadcaster of the weather programme, Czech Television, it did not cause panic.

Psychology expert Jan Lasek testified that the blast appeared to have been “some kind of a practical joke”, aktualne.cz news web site reported.

The guerilla artists are members of an all-male collective Ztohoven whose work unwittingly falls into the rich Czech tradition of self-deprecating humour and playful hoaxes. The name is a pun, which means both “Out of It” and “Hundred Turds”.

The members, who use punning aliases, staged their first action in 2003 when the post-communist president Vaclav Havel was leaving office.

They then scaled scaffolding to cover half of a neon heart on a Prague Castle tower – an art work symbolizing the Havel era – and turned it into a question mark.

The atomic mushroom prank earned the collective a new prize for young artists NG 333 from the National Gallery. Some 17,300 people signed a petition in their favour within three weeks.

The state attorney, who asked the court to punish the pranksters with 200 hours of public service, has not said whether the office will appeal the verdict.

photo: CzechTek

Related stories:

  • Weather report: Expect a brief mushroom cloud coming from the east
  • Czech Art Group, Ztohoven, Wins Award AND Faces Prosecution for Nuclear Bomb Prank